One of the best things about traveling in southern Italy is the lack of English you’ll hear on the streets, in restaurants, even at main attractions. But this can also be intimidating-especially for kids. Unless you already speak Italian, you’ll probably want to pick up a few basic phrases yourself, so get your kids involved and use this vacation as an excuse to encourage an interest in foreign languages.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 4/5 of the world’s population does not speak English, so in addition to instilling a sense of global and cultural understanding and increasing future employment opportunities, you’ll also help your children become better world travelers.

Here are three tips that will help you, help them learn Italian.

1. Share Your Excitement
As soon as I knew my nephew would be visiting this summer, I set out to teach him a few new words in Italian. I’d repeat a few basic words and phrases over and over, such as “here you go,” “are you hungry?” or “let’s go” until he quickly understood and could respond to them. Then, we moved on. Also, I was with him in Texas for a month before his trip, so we’d use our morning walk to work on pronouns and basic verbs.

2. Don’t Push Them
Remember those morning walks where we’d talk pronouns and verbs? Yea, well … they weren’t *that* interesting. Let’s face it, learning a language would be more fun-and loads easier!-if you didn’t have to study. I’d take a cue from my nephew and when he started to get restless, we’d abandon Italian for a while and talk about something else. Later in the day, I’d gradually reintroduce it, usually by repeating something he’d just said and adding, “Oh, do you know what that word is in Italian?

3. Encourage Them to Try
it was hard for me not to take the lead and speak for him when we were out and about. Luckily, he’s a pretty independent kid and wanted to speak for himself, ask for the restroom … even order his own food. I was lucky because he wanted to take the initiative and learn some Italian. Even if your kids are more intimidated by the language, encourage them to at least respond with a “grazie,” or “per favore,” when others speak to them.

What other advice would you have for parents trying to teach their kids Italian?

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

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